Aussie food news: all the latest updates
There’s a lot going on in Aussie food news right now. With NSW opening up, restaurants have seen a flurry of bookings as fully vaxxed food lovers make the most of their newfound freedom. Also in NSW, public servants are being offered special leave to help farmers out with what’s expected to be a bumper harvest. That should be interesting… And for young Australians on the lookout for a fulfilling career, a new agriculture jobs expo is on offer.
In South Australia, there’s a changing of the creative guard at Tasting Australia, and in Melbourne, 20 lucky people will be selected to become official bacon testers. We’ve got the deets on how to apply. There’s also movement afoot in east coast dairy, and a welcome announcement for our ag shows. Read on to check out all the latest Aussie food news.
Our actions are our future
Today is World Food Day. It’s celebrated every year on October 16 to commemorate the founding of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation in 1945. This year, the theme is, “Our actions are our future: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”. Maybe not so catchy, but certainly spot-on.
The food we choose and the way we consume it affects our health and that of our planet. Our choices have an impact on the way agri-food systems work. A sustainable agri-food system provides a variety of sufficient, nutritious, safe foods at a price affordable to everyone. But currently, almost 40 percent of the world’s population can’t afford a healthy diet. So be part of the change we need to see. Consumers have power. Every time you eat, you participate in the system. It’s the food you choose – the way it’s produced, prepared, cooked and stored – that makes you an integral part of how our agri-food systems work.
To find out more, head to fao.org/world-food-day
Small Australian olive oil producers shine
Australia’s premier olive competition, the Australian International Olive Awards, announced the 2021 winners last night. Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) of Show Boutique Volume went to Leisal Rose Farm. The small NSW producer’s EVOO topped the judges’ scores with a rare 96/100, also winning a gold medal and Champion Mild EVOO, Champion New South Wales EVOO, Champion Australian EVOO, Best Southern Hemisphere EVOO.
The award for Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Show – Commercial Volume went to Elisi Grove, also small on the commercial scale. The South Australian producer’s Kalamata EVOO was awarded an equally impressive score of 95 by the judges, also earning a gold medal and trophies for Champion Greek Varietal EVOO and Champion South Australian EVOO.
Also taking major awards were Victorian producers Olive Twist, which won gold, Champion Agrumato Olive Oil and Best Flavoured Olive Oil of Show for its 95-pointed Lime Agrumato; and Saluté Oliva, awarded 92 points, gold and trophies for Champion Dried Olive, Champion Australian Table Olive and Best Table Olive of Show for its unique Semi Dried Olives.
For a full list of results, go to internationaloliveawardsaustralia.com.au
Avocado growers’ bid to sell fruit pays off
Earlier this week, we reported on the avocado glut that’s currently causing headaches for our growers. But there has also been some good news for the avocado industry. The “Our Green Gold” advertising campaign has now reached more than 17.6 million Australian consumers. More activity is scheduled over the coming months to support the WA Hass crop and the Shepard variety season. The initiative has also won the prestigious Seven Network Best Ad of Tokyo 2021 competition, the Outdoor Media Association Creative Collection Award and was an Inside FMCG top marketing pick of the year.
New flavour for Tasting Australia 2022
Tasting Australia is set to evolve in 2022, with a new creative team taking the reins. Outgoing Festival Director Simon Bryant will move on from his role after eight years at the helm. He’ll take on a new role within the festival as Patron. This will allow him to pass on his industry and event knowledge to a new creative team, providing mentorship and guidance.
“I’m looking forward to passing the baton to a new team of culinary geniuses and see what’s next for Tasting Australia,” Bryant says. “I’m so proud to have led the festival team for the past eight years. We’ve attracted many great chefs to the state and really shone a light on the South Australian food and beverage industry. It’s so humbling to know our efforts have supported and paid homage to our great producers, produce and regions.”
Tasting Australia will be held in Adelaide and regional SA from April 29 to May 8, 2022. The event program will be revealed in December. Visit tastingaustralia.com.au for more info.
Bacon testers wanted
Calling all Melbourne bacon lovers! Saltsmith is out to make the best bacon in Australia, and want to check with Melburnians to see if they’re on the right track. The team is on the hunt for 20 people to taste and rate their new free-range Saltsmith Streaky Bacon against other bacons. Selected applicants will receive three different bacons: Saltsmith Streaky Bacon, a much-loved Melbourne butcher’s streaky bacon and a standard supermarket streaky bacon. Each sample will be anonymous, and testers will be asked to cook, taste and rank each rasher. They’ll also receive samples of all three bacons in Saltsmith’s core range. Plus, they’ll go into a draw to win three months’ worth of Saltsmith Bacon.
Interested? Hell, who wouldn’t be? To apply, go to the Saltsmith website. Bacon testers must live within 25km of Melbourne CBD. Applications close on November 3.
Dairy groups to merge
Advocacy groups Dairy Connect and the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) are set to merge under a new “eastAUSmilk” banner. The groups say that the proposed merger will deliver “substantial benefits” to the industry. QDO CEO Eric Danzi says there are many advantages to be realised by bringing together two like-minded dairy producer organisations operating across state borders. “Economies of scale will occur by eliminating duplication of activities across regions and operating under a unified banner,” he says.
Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan says the name eastAUSmilk was designed to reflect values that dairy farmer members look for. “These include more effective advocacy through a stronger united voice,” he says. “And greater opportunities and efficiencies, with a single organisation lobbying on behalf of a greater number of dairy farmers.”
NSW public servants to hit the paddocks for harvest
More than 4500 staff from the Department of Regional NSW, including Local Land Services and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, will be able to access five days’ special harvest leave to help farmers with what is expected to be a bumper harvest season. NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole says the special leave will allow departmental staff to lend a much-needed hand as farmers struggle to find workers to bring in the crop. It’s the first time such leave has been rolled out.
“Nearly 80 percent of staff from the Department of Regional NSW already live and work in regional NSW,” he says. “So chances are, most of them know their way around a header or a chaser bin. And how important this busy time of year is for regional communities.”
If you’d like to help with this year’s harvest, head to the Help Harvest NSW website.
#AgVenture Careers Expo
High school students are encouraged to log on and find out more about the many and varied jobs in agriculture with the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) #AgVenture Careers Expo. The expo is part of this year’s celebrations for National Agriculture Day, which will be held on Friday, November 19. Beginning on Monday, October 25, year 10, 11 and 12 students and other young people can watch webinars that provide day-in-the-life, no-holds-barred insights into jobs like cattle vet, stock and station agent and, of course, farmer.
NFF President Fiona Simson says young people are likely to be surprised to learn of the jobs on offer. On-farm, in an office and even in the air. “The great part about agriculture is that there’s a career to suit almost every interest, skill, education level and location,” she says.
To find out more and to register for the #AgVenture Careers Expo visit the AgDay website.
Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden marks 20 years
As students settle back into school after school holidays and remote learning, many of them will take part in the inaugural Kitchen Garden Week celebrations to be held next week. The week of activities aims to teach children and young people positive food habits for life, with a focus on overall wellbeing and an awareness of sustainable living. Events kick off on October 18, marking the 20-year anniversary of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. Throughout the week, schools and early childhood services taking part in the program will participate in fun, hands-on activities illustrating the joys of growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, seasonal food.
To find out more about the program, head to kitchengardenfoundation.org.au
More help for ag shows
COVID-19 has forced more than 700 agricultural shows and field days to cancel since the pandemic began. This has included major ag events such as the Royal Queensland Show and the Royal Melbourne Show. As a result, our show societies and field day organisers have suffered significant financial losses for two consecutive years. And without these events, they’ve got no way to cover their costs. To help agricultural shows and field days bounce back post-pandemic, the Australian government is providing a further $25 million in funding. Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud says round 2 of the Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days Program will open soon. The Supporting Agricultural Showmen and Women Program, which helps eligible travelling show businesses to meet operational costs, will be also be extended for an additional year.
What freedom tastes like
As NSW opens up again, restaurant booking app TheFork has released industry-wide data that shows how and where vaccinated NSW residents are planning on eating out as they help Australia’s restaurant industry get back on its feet. Some key findings:
1. Aussies are flocking back to restaurants. Bookings are up 253% since September 27, when NSW’s roadmap to freedom was announced.
2. There’s been an increase in group bookings, with the average booking size now 5.2 people. But 2 people still remains the most popular booking size.
3. Pub grub is the cuisine with the highest increase. This is due to people booking in line with the reduced capacity of indoor venues.
4. Meals are happening earlier, with the most popular time being 6pm (31% of bookings).
5. Lunchtime bookings now make up 23% of total Australia bookings vs. pre-COVID (19%).
6. Sydney currently has more lunchtime bookings (25%) than the rest of NSW (13%) and Australia (14%).
Pass the beluga, darling
Caviar is one of the world’s oldest delicacies. Before oysters, champagne and truffles, caviar was coveted by kings and the aristocracy. The Ancient Greeks and Romans and Russian tsars were also known to splurge on caviar. (This could be because caviar is believed to be an aphrodisiac…. just sayin’.) And now, Australia’s first dedicated caviar retail store has opened in Sydney’s Potts Point. Gourmet Life’s new store opens today, and its flagship store in Edgecliff also specialises in the finest ingredients from around the world, such as the elusive white Alba truffles from Italy and cheeses and olive oils from France.
And just in case you missed it…
This week, we sat down with nutritionist Susan McLeod, who dished up 10 native foods that you should be eating for your health. We also got the buzz on backyard beekeeping, with expert advice from beekeeping master Doug Purdie.
Presently, we’re right in the middle of an avocado glut. So we took a look at the factors that have led to a perfect storm of problems for our avocado growers. Read it, then go out and buy some Aussie avos to show your support for our hardworking farmers.
Finally, to mark National Mushroom Day, we put the spotlight on Unearthed Co Mushrooms – one of Australia’s most outstanding mushroom producers. We also shared some tasty and nutritious mushroom recipes that’ll help you give the ’shroom more room in your life.
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